Thursday, March 31, 2011

Been There, Done That, LOVED It

Do you remember that old song about those "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer ... ?" Well, that's what we have EVERY summer on the campus of Your College ... except for the "lazy" part.

I know, I know, I know ... summer doesn't "officially" start this year until June 21st ... while for some people it starts with the end of the school year, or the Memorial Day weekend. But for Brenda Cordero and her staff at MC's Continuing Education office, summer has - at least in some respects - already begun. They are already up to their elbows in tee-shirts, pre-registration forms, course schedules, employment applications and a host of other items needed to prepare for the 2011 edition of Kids College at MC, West Texas' premier summer activity for kids ...

... and that's not just the MC staffer in me making that claim, but also a Midland parent of two boys who participated in Kids' College, who has first-hand experience with the program, and a genuine appreciation for the opportunity it provides youngsters in the Tall City.

Both boys had a major blast during the summers they were eligible to participate ... and as parents, we were thrilled for them to have an opportunity to get out of the house, run around some, make some friends and learn some neat 'stuff.' We still have works of arts and crafts adorning our home ... and the boys can still relate tales of something they did - something different and out-of-the-ordinary - for the very first time during a KC summer. Don't believe that song about " there ain't no cure for the summertime blues ..." There is - Kids' College at MC.

Online registration for this year's edition of Kids' College begins Monday, April 4, at 8:00 a.m. and runs through Wednesday, June 1, for Session I, and Thursday, June 16, for Session II. Walk-in registration begins Tuesday, May 31 ... but I definitely recommend getting registered online, right away, for the best selection of classes. For more information, you can contact the MC Continuing Education office at (432) 685-4518, or visit the Kids College website at

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Job at Your College Doesn't End with Graduation

A busy time right now here, at Midland College ... and it's only going to get busier for everyone - students and faculty, staff and administrators - as we enter the closing stretch of the Spring Semester, the last last six weeks leading up to graduation.

In a number of ways, our annual commencement exercise at MC isn't so much an ending, as it is a turning point ... one more step - albeit a significant one - in the ongoing process that is life and learning, at Your College and beyond.

"Our Job at Your College Doesn't End with Graduation" ... so many offices and programs at MC are devoted not just to the here and now of your education, but to what comes next. A perfect example is our Financial Aid Office. MC students who are graduating this SPRING, and are planning to continue their education at a senior college or university, are urged to contact Financial Aid about a number of Graduating Sophomore Scholarships available exclusively through MC ... but do it right away ... application deadline is Friday, April 1.

On a related note, students planning to enroll at MC this FALL should begin their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid application process NOW. Call (432) 685-5511 for more information, or click on THIS LINK

Also working for students' future is our Job Placement Office, which each year hosts a Job Fair at the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center, on the Midland College main campus. Over 40 area companies and organizations will be present at Job Fair 2011, which is from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 14. This event is FREE and open to the public. Participants will address employment opprotunities in several fields: computer industry, education, healthcare, law enforcement, military, staffing agencies, state and local government, technical industry and more.

In addition to preparing for the event, our Job Placement Office is also helping prepare MC students for this event, and for other job fairs taking place this time of year. At "Getting Ready for Job Fairs," Midland College students are invited to come by the MC Job Placement Office (Room 246, Dorothy and Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. Student Center) for tips on how to succeed at a job fair, resumè assistance, lists of participating companies, and more. For more information, contact Lupe Daniels, MC Job Placement Coordinator, at (432) 685-4716, or

Speaking of Chap Center, still another activity related to students' future is the annual College Fair, where MC provides a venue for ALL students of ALL ages, and their parents, to meet with representatives of a large and diverse number of colleges, universities, technical programs and military services. It's a free activity, open to the public. Last year's event PACKED the Chap Center. We'll have details on THIS year's event, as soon as they're available.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Forward? No, Spring Break!!

Test, after test, after test. That is what this past week had in store for me. Of course all of the major exams in each of my classes fall on the exact same week, but that's how it usually works out. Thankfully all my hard work is about to be worth it because Spring Break 2011 is here!! ...At least it will be once five o'clock hits.

Everyone from out of town colleges comes home for the break, but since there is absolutely nothing to do in Midland, naturally everyone is going out of town. Since I live, work, and go to school here, I am no exception. Vacation hot spots like Ruidoso, Dallas, South Padre Island, and San Antonio call to all the breaking college students and their families. My calling, however, has been from Austin, good ole capital of Texas.

The timing couldn't be more perfect because during the time off from school and work, a music and film festival will be going on in downtown Austin called South by Southwest, SXSW. Having heard of it before, but not really knowing what it was, I was a little reluctant to accept my invite. But the more I did my research, the more I wondered why I never took the time to go before! Free concerts, films, and lots of interaction with the vendors sounds like an awesomely fun time. Food, friends, music, and movies, what is better than that?? Excitement set in as soon as all the plans were finalized, and I definitely cannot wait to take off to the big ATX for the festival. We won't set out until Thursday though, and it feels like the suspense will kill me. Luckily we spring forward an hour on Sunday, making me that much closer to my much needed Spring Break 2011 trip!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

First-hand History at Your College

A passing-of-note took place early this week ...

"Frank W. Buckles died Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused," Paul Duggan wrote in
this article for the Washington Post "In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor."

When I was young, World War I vets were still common enough that we could all hear their first-hand recollections of that era, and the changes wrought by that conflict. I had both a grandfather and a great-grandfather in the war. But even then, forty years after that strangely silent November morning signaled an end of "the war to end all wars," the old soldiers were begining to pass on to their final posting. Sure, we had books and photos, films and audio tapes ... but it wasn't quite the same as being there with them, asking questions, listening to the answers, watching their eyes, hearing a catch in their voice, and getting at least some sense of what it must have been like. The recollections are still there, but now they are second-hand ... as Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said, "We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history."

All of this comes to mind as Midland College prepares to welcome someone who is, herself, such a link to history. On Thursday, March 24, Celia Sandys - author and journalist, television presenter and public speaker - will visit Midland as part of the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series. Sandys will speak on "Memories of My Grandfather, Winston Churchill, at Home and Abroad." Drawing upon her vast and intimate knowledge of the personal and political life of the man she called 'Grandpapa,' Sandys describes her grandfather’s extensive military, political and private travels across the world, including the many journeys on which she accompanied him.

The Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series presents
Celia Sandys
"Memories of My Grandfather, Winston Churchill, at Home and Abroad"

Thursday, March 24, 2011, 7:30 p.m.
Al G. Langford Chaparral Center

Admission is free, but tickets are required.
CLICK HERE to order your free tickets online.

Twice a year, the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series, Midland College Foundation, Friends of the Series and Bank of America present speakers whose civic leadership, academic accomplishments and/or public achievements interest, enrich, and enlighten Midland students and citizens. These lectures are FREE to the public.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

To Apply or Not to Apply

It's that time of year, half way through the semester and graduation is just around the corner. Since I barely graduated from high school less than a year ago, it's hard to believe I'll be graduating again soon. Only this time from college with an Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration-thank you dual credit courses! I have definitely had a busy year here at Midland College, but all the experiences I had made it all worthwhile. Which is why after reading a Facebook update about a commencement speaker, I deiced to apply.

"Five minutes in What Midland College Has Meant To Me." That seems simple enough. I'm taking a speech class right now, so that should be easy! But of course when I sit down to actually begin writing it, a billion ideas rush into my head at once and I can't figure out where to start! I was sure the backspace button on my keyboard had enough, so I decided to take a break. Frustration had set in and now I wasn't so sure I wanted to apply for the "MC 2011 Commencement Speaker." Not to mention I"m graduating with only one year of actually attending MC, while there are plenty of others who would have seniority over me. The negativity attacked and my thoughts made me seriously doubt whether I really had a chance, or if I should even bother?

With encouraging words, I let myself be talked into taking the risk and go for it. Graduating less than a year out of high school is not something every person can do. Also, with juggling back to back classes, work, night classes, and online classes it seemed as if I had more in my favor than I realized. The worst that can happen is being told no. Sure I didn't have the same experiences as everyone else, but that made my situation a unique one to discuss. I can't imagine how awesome of an experience it would be if my application were successful. There is only one way to find out, and starts with "Five minutes on What Midland College Has Meant To Me."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Community College Budget Update

by Steve Thomas, Ph.D.
Midland College President

The news from Austin is about the same. The Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) and individual community colleges provided testimony to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee to explain the fall-out for local communities should we lose $5-$7 million as currently proposed. The Committees are wrestling with a huge budget deficit and they have no answers other than Cut! Cut! Cut!

During the Senate Finance Committee hearings, the most telling comment came from Senator John Whitmire from Houston who stated that community colleges have always figured out a way to continue to grow and serve students even with reductions in state appropriation, so what makes this any different? Ouch! What makes this different is the severity of the cuts.

The other telling comment came from Representative Jim Pitts, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who said that the sound of silence was deafening in terms of community support for community colleges. In other words they are not receiving any push back from community leaders. To that end, I have prepared a "snapshot" of Midland College concerning the salient issues for this legislative session, and this will be mailed to every friend of Midland College that we can identify with a letter soliciting their support through letters and phone calls to our elected officials.

In the meantime, we are working on the MC budget for 2011-2012 with a number of unknowns, but our approach will be to make up the deficit in three ways: increase tuition and fees, generate more revenue from ad valorem taxes and make strategic cuts in expenditures. Each of these will cover about a third of the total deficit (as currently projected).

I believe that the state budget will improve slightly before a final appropriation bill is passed, but we simply have to plan for the worst case scenario at this time and hopefully make positive adjustments when possible. Unfortunately, there are some very difficult decisions ahead, and I appreciate your support and cooperation. Please contact me if you have questions or concerns.